Gigi Marvin, who earned a silver medal with the 2010 Olympic women's hockey team, found herself among a different sort of elite company last fall. Marvin jumped with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, free-falling at about 120 miles per hour for part of the 7-minute, 13,000-foot jump.
"That was awesome," said Marvin, a former Warroad and Gophers standout.
She's is taking a similar leap of faith in hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Olympic team, which plays in Sochi, Russia. Coaches moved Marvin, a forward throughout high school, college and the Olympics, to defense, a position she last played in youth hockey.
"It's about putting your whole heart into it and embracing your role," Marvin said. "Right now I'm a 'D' and I'm embracing it and enjoying it."
Marvin has been participating in the USA Hockey Women's National Festival, held at the Schwan Super Rink at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The festival culminates with picking players to represent the country in an Under-18 series against Canada on Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the Super Rink.
Marvin's short-term mission is different. She's training with older players and past Olympians for a spot in the Four Nations Cup taking place in November in Finland.
USA Hockey assistant coach and former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican said Marvin's position switch has been mostly seamless.
"I see her thinking the game from back there," said Hedican, who grew up in North St. Paul, played on two Olympic teams and won a Stanley Cup with Carolina. "She's got all the tools to make all the plays, now it's a matter of being able to shut the brain off and just be able to do it."
In a few months, Marvin will return to Boston, where she lived from last October through April. She played for the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women's Hockey League and trained with Olympic teammates Kacey Bellamy, Kelli Stack and Karen Thatcher.
In New England, Marvin hiked about 3,700 feet to the summit of Vermont's Whiteface Mountain, skied in Massachusetts and went lobstering off the coast of Maine.
She also indulged her passion for coaching, assisting the girls' hockey program at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass. Marvin hopes to pass along the tutelage she received from her father, Mike.
"My dad taught me at a young age to be a student of the game," Marvin said. "You've got to know what other players are doing because it will benefit your game."
Asked if playing defense was her best route to making the next Olympic team, Marvin replied, "The way to get there is to be team-first. The only thing I can control is my effort and my attitude and the second my name is called, to give it my all."